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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

29 September 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the Member States of the European Union by Mr. Jan De Preter, Counsellor at the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, 71th Session of the General Assembly Fifth Committee: Organisation of work

As delivered

Madame la Présidente,

J’ai l’honneur de prendre la parole au nom des États membres de l’Union européenne.

La Turquie, l’ancienne République yougoslave de Macédoine[*], le Monténégro*, la Serbie* , pays candidats, la Bosnie-Herzégovine pays du processus de stabilisation et d’association et candidat potentiel, ainsi que l’Ukraine, la République de Moldavie, l’Arménie et la Géorgie se rallient à la présente déclaration.

Madame la Présidente,

Permettez-moi tout d’abord de vous féliciter pour votre élection au poste de président de la Cinquième Commission. Bien entendu, nous tenons également à féliciter les membres du Bureau pour leur élection. Nous avons un travail difficile devant nous, mais nous sommes convaincus que, grâce à votre expérience et sous votre direction, ces négociations importantes parviendront à une conclusion fructueuse et constructive.

Nous souhaitons également exprimer notre gratitude à votre prédécesseur, SE M. l’ambassadeur Bhattarai du Népal, pour la manière dont il a guidé nos travaux lors de notre dernière session. Nous exprimons également notre profonde gratitude aux membres du Bureau de la 70e session. Enfin, nous sommes également heureux de pouvoir s’appuyer sur la longue expérience du secrétariat du 5ième Comité, ainsi que sur celle d’autres fonctionnaires du Secrétariat et du Comité Consultatif des Questions administratives et Budgétaires (CCQAB), dont la contribution est essentielle pour la réussite de notre programme de travail.

Madam Chairperson,

The Committee’s agenda for this session is heavy and includes many important and complex items. Completing our programme of work in a timely manner will require a collective effort from us all. We do believe we can achieve this goal if we conduct our negotiations effectively and in a constructive spirit. We are convinced that you will guide us in achieving this goal.

We all share responsibility on how to best organise our work. We do believe however that our working methods can and should be improved and we stand ready to discuss this important item with all partners concerned.

First, we would like to reiterate the importance of the timely and simultaneous submission of all required documentation in all official languages. This is key to the much needed inclusivity and transparency that will help us reach a successful negotiated outcome. We will be vigilant on this matter throughout the session.

Second, we strongly feel that this Committee should be able to reach decisions by consensus during normal working hours, with proper conference facilities and without having to resort to working during weekends or nights. Working outside normal conference hours should be the exception and can no longer be the rule of doing business in this Committee. The budget Committee has a key role to play in steering the organization towards more inclusivity, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in delivering its mandates and back door policies and deals cannot be part of this exercise.

Third, we note with satisfaction that last year the Committee has managed to conclude its business by consensus and at expert level and we are convinced we can do so as well this session. However, time management still remains a major concern with important items being introduced at a very late stage. Last GA session we have addressed this issue of time management in the Fifth Committee, in the Committee on Programme and Coordination and again lately in the Committee on Conferences, in particular in relation to the organisation of the 2nd resumed session.

We understand there is a strong shared feeling in this room that 4 weeks is not enough time for the 2nd resumed session to consider its work and that the back-to-back organization of the Fifth Committee with the Committee on Programme Coordination (CPC) hampers the organizational effectiveness of the committee and its secretariat. We hope that the Fifth Committee can find a long lasting solution to this issue in the interest of multilingualism, transparency, and last but not least the UN staff whose livelihood depends on the budgetary decisions we take.

Last week, during the General Debate, and speaking from the rostrum of the General Assembly Hall, our Secretary-General made an appeal to find practical solutions that will improve decision-making at the United Nations. We believe we should respond to this appeal through improving our working methods and improving our processes so that our Committee is better equipped at making the Organization more transparent and effective and less prone to micro-management and midnight deals behind closed doors. Together we can achieve this goal.

Madam Chairperson,

We will express our views on individual items when they are introduced. However, there are a few general principles we would like to highlight today.

The Member States of the European Union believe that principles of effectiveness, efficiency and budgetary discipline are crucial to the proper functioning of the Organisation, especially now when emerging and growing challenges impel new functions and mandates. We still believe that the recent reform initiatives in the field of human resources, ICT and UMOJA have not yet realised their full potential and benefits. We are hopeful that more progress can be made in this regard.

We also believe that more work needs to be done in terms of reprioritisation and redeployment of resources to meet new mandates, and in light of all the new challenges the Organization is facing.

In general, we would like to reaffirm our long-standing position that all measures need to be taken to avoid increases in the already agreed Programme Budget, including those derived from the piece-meal approach of the budget process as well as those derived from inflation and currency fluctuation. As a result, we would like to call upon all colleagues to observe strict adherence to Article 153 of the Rules and Procedures of the General Assembly and to all other relevant procedures that relate to new resources and the adoption of resolutions that contain Programme Budget Implications (PBIs).

Madam Chairperson,

As staunch supporters of the United Nations and the principle of effective multilateralism, the Member States of the European Union are committed to providing the Organisation with the necessary resources to conduct its work, while firmly believing there is still substantial room for improving its efficient and effective operation.

Finally, Madame Chairperson, allow me to make clear the wish of the EU Member States to work with you and all members of the Fifth Committee in a spirit of constructive cooperation, consensus and collegiality.

I thank you, Madam Chairperson.


[*] L’ancienne République yougoslave de Macédoine, le Monténégro et la Serbie continuent à participer au processus de stabilisation et d’association.

  • Ref: EUUN16-113EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Fifth Committee - Administrative and Budgetary Committee
  • Date: 29/09/2016

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